The Chronicles of Prydain, Book 1 of 5
by Lloyd Alexander, published 1999
“Gwydion caught Taran’s look of disappointment. “It is not the trappings that make the prince,” he said gently, “nor, indeed, the sword that makes the warrior…”
Lloyd Alexander’s children’s book series on his invented land of Prydain undoubtedly has an enormous following. Fantasy books tend to create a real cult if they are good, and there is no question that this series of children’s books are good. But not everyone is into fantasy.
As a child, I did not read any fantasy children’s books, so diving in at a late age, it’s hard to relate to the effect fantasy has on kids. I can say for myself that I do like being drawn into another world, with it’s own strange language and culture. I can imagine that this style of fantasy sparks imagination in a big way. My only wish for these books is that they had fewer gory battles to deal with. However, there is enough lightness in this children’s book, and enough likeable characters, that the overall effect is not dark.
One of the benefits of these kinds of fantasy books is that the author can create characters that exaggerate human traits, in the same way fables do. As a reader, we get to groan when a character like Taran seems too thick to realize what he’s doing, and we smile when the former king is busy bragging. I appreciate having all these elements mixed into the adventure itself, so one can focus either on the rough and tough battles, or on the characters.
And with that, I’m quite happy to recommend this children’s book, and probably the rest of the series, though I haven’t read them.